Ryan Rainey

Date of Defense


Date of Graduation



Political Science

First Advisor

David Houghton

Second Advisor

Ashlyn Keursten

Third Advisor

Thomas Kostrzewa


The presidential primary is an event that is crucial to determining potential presidents. It allows the public to see how these politicians stack up against one another and how they conduct a campaign. While the general public has a basic idea of how presidential primaries work, very few know the history and details of them. That is what this thesis will do. In part one, the early history of presidential primaries and how nominees were first chosen will be covered. Also in this section, the different reforms that the Democratic Party has undertaken in order to reform the primary and national convention process will be analyzed. In part two, the Iowa caucus and the New Hampshire primary, which have traditionally held the first in the nation contests, will be discussed as well as how they became the first and what significance they hold to candidates. Section three will cover the 2008 primary season. The primary battle between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, as well as the path John McCain took to win his nomination will be outlined. In part four, the future of national conventions and presidential primaries will be discussed. In part five, a number of proposed reforms to the presidential primaries will be analyzed. The idea is to show what the future holds for the conventions and primaries and to look at potential improvements to the process. The overall goal of this thesis is to present a better understanding of what it takes to even be a candidate for president.


Powerpoint accompanying.

Access Setting

Honors Thesis-Open Access

Thesis power point 1.pptx (156 kB)
Powerpoint Presentation